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Morocco maintain the magic by beating Brazil

Among the many storylines that emerged during last year's World Cup in Qatar, Morocco's march to the semi-finals was one of the most memorable.

The Atlas Lions became the first African nation to reach the last four of international football's showpiece tournament as they made a mockery of earlier predictions that they wouldn't even make it out of what looked like a very difficult group containing experienced European pair Belgium and Croatia.

And Morocco are back in the headlines now after they beat Brazil 2-1 in a friendly in Tangier on Saturday - their first-ever success over the South American giants - to prove their incredible run in Qatar was no fluke.

With the next Africa Cup of Nations coming up early next year and the World Cup in Canada, Mexico and USA in 2026 a further target, hopes are high that Morocco can continue to shine on the biggest stages.

Still long shots for 2026 glory

They are available at 66/1 at the moment in the World Cup 2026 To Win Outright market, but that price will surely shorten if they continue to perform like they have recently.

Looking back on Morocco's Qatar campaign, Walid Regragui's side produced some stunning performances that were often built on a solid defensive foundation.

After raising a few eyebrows with an opening 0-0 draw in Group F against Croatia, they then caused a major shock by beating the much-fancied Belgium 2-0 with two goals in the last quarter of the game.

A 2-1 win over Canada rounded off their group matches and they then took on Spain in the first knockout round, with virtually everyone expecting the Europeans to progress.

Spain and Portugal dispatched

However, another resolute defensive display took the game to penalties and, after Spain somehow missed their first three spot-kicks, Achraf Hakimi - who was one of the stars of the tournament - clipped home a brilliant Panenka effort to knock La Roja out.

Youssef En-Nesyri was the hero in the last eight as his goal edged them past Portugal, while the displays of Sofyan Amrabat, Sofiane Boufal and Hakim Ziyech - to name just three - were deservedly garnering plenty of attention.

Morocco were eventually knocked out 2-0 by France, but it was far from a comfortable semi-final victory for Les Bleus who were pushed all the way by Regragui's troops, who only conceded the second goal with 11 minutes to go.

Down the years, World Cups have often featured surprise teams defying the odds - with Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002 immediately springing to mind - but arguably never has a nation so unfancied made it as far as Morocco did in Qatar.

AFCON coming up early in 2024

After their rise to prominence, plenty of observers will be watching closely to see how they do in next year's Africa Cup Of Nations in Ivory Coast.

And even though the tournament doesn't take place until January, the Atlas Lions have already qualified as they are guaranteed a top-two finish in Group K following two wins from two so far and the fact Zimbabwe have been disqualified from the section.

Morocco have only ever won Africa's biggest competition once - way back in 1976 - and in recent years have made it as far as the last eight twice, in both 2017 and 2021, while they were knocked out in the last-16 in 2019.

After their heroics in Qatar, they must surely be aiming higher next year. Morocco are expected to be among the favourites to lift the trophy in the Ivory Coast, although defending champions Senegal, as well as Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria are among the other countries who will hope to contend for glory.

Peru friendly next on the agenda

Morocco are in action in another friendly against Peru on Tuesday and, after their victory over Brazil, it's no surprise to see them 11/10 to win in Full Time Result, with Peru 5/2 and the draw 9/4.

They return to AFCON qualifying later in the year with games against South Africa and Liberia and, even though their place in the tournament is already assured, they will want to maintain their winning momentum so that they head to Ivory Coast in the best possible shape.

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